Susan May

"Through my job I get to contribute to the sustainable development of society and meet many passionate and intelligent people from around the world, which for me is incredibly rewarding."


Why did you study at UQ?

I chose to study at UQ as it is well known for offering great science education plus it offered a dual degree that allowed me to follow my curiosity in science and pursue my deep interest and fascination with Japanese language, literature and culture.

By studying at UQ I was able to go on a one-year student exchange experience at the University of Kitakyushu in Japan.

Furthermore, I received the Wotif Scholarship for my studies which, coming from a low-income family, opened up and gave me valuable opportunities and experiences that I would otherwise have been unable to afford.


What kind of work do you do as part of your job?

As the Hakusan Tedorigawa Geopark is a UNESCO Global Geopark, all applications and communication delivered on behalf of UNESCO must be conducted in English, so a key part of my role is translating pamphlets, documents, and various materials into English.

In addition to this I also conduct tours in both Japanese and English, describing the geological, natural, and cultural features of the Geopark to visitors. I also present at international conferences related to Geoparks. As an alumni of UQ, I'm collaborating with UQ to organise exchange with the Hakusan Tedorigawa Geopark.

Before my current job, studying Japanese at UQ opened up opportunities to work in a Japanese manufacturing company, working in international marketing. While completely unrelated to geology, I learned valuable skills in Japanese business culture and language, as well as in design and marketing. These are skills that have transferred to my current job, as I'm now also in charge of the design of pamphlets and promotional materials, writing and editing material for web pages as well as managing social media platforms for the Geopark.


What is the best part of your job?

Through my job I get to contribute to the sustainable development of society and meet many passionate and intelligent people from around the world, which for me is incredibly rewarding.

Having a background in geology allows me to understand difficult geological concepts. I enjoy the process and challenge of translating and communicating key concepts in a way that’s meaningful and easy for visitors to understand.

I also have a deep interest in the traditional crafts and culture of Japan. Since living in Japan I have been learning a traditional craft of the area, that has seen a large decline in craftspeople in recent decades.

As geoparks are also deeply involved in culture and their connection with the land, in the future I hope to utilise the geopark to further promote this craft, revitalise it, and share it with the world and contribute to protecting aspects of traditional Japanese culture from disappearing.


What advice would you give to anyone starting their career or considering studying at UQ?

It's scary to admit your weaknesses or what you don’t know, but through admitting them you can allow yourself to grow.

My advice, which is more advice to my younger self, is to not be scared of talking with your teachers or leaders when you don't understand concepts, topics, tasks or lessons. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and so it is inevitable that you will come across something you don't easily understand. People want you to succeed (especially your teachers), and are usually willing to provide extra material or further explanations to help you understand things.

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Susan May

Susan May

Job title
Geologist and International Relations Officer, Hakusan Tedorigawa Geopark, Japan

Bachelors of Science (Geological Science) / Arts (Japanese)

Profile published 2023

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